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Images: A Long Voyage to Get a New Ship

Navy Admiral (ret.) Dick Pittenger, former vice president for marine operations at WHOI, was part of a team that led WHOI's winning proposal to operate a new research vessel for the nation's oceanographic fleet. It will be built by the Navy. (Photo by Jayne Doucette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Atlantis was one of the nation's first dedicated research vessels capable of venturing into the open sea far beyond the shoreline. Purchased with funds from a private endowment, it operated out of Woods Hole from the founding of WHOI in 1931 until 1964. (Photo by David M. Owen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

R/V Knorr, which will be retired when the new WHOI research ship is built, first entered the water in Bay City, Michigan on Aug. 21, 1968. Since then it has traveled more than one million miles in the service of oceanographic research. Knorr, which is owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by WHOI, received a major overhaul in 1989 and was refit in 2005 to carry the Long Core. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The new and current R/V Atlantis was launched in 1997. One of its first duties was an outreach tour to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Hundreds of government officials and students were invited aboard to learn about ocean research. WHOI will make a similar effort with its new research ship, which is scheduled to launch in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

To withstand the rigors of waves, wind, and sometimes ice, oceanographic research vessels must be large, sturdy, and well designed. Here, Capt. A.D. Colburn, right, crew member Bill Dunn, and others use ice mallets to break up ice that formed on the foredeck of R/V Knorr during a research cruise in the Labrador Sea. (Photo by George Tupper, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

During deployment of a buoy, the busiest area of a research vessel is the fantail, the portion of the deck near the ship's stern. What looks like mayhem is actually a highly organized and precisely choreographed procedure for getting the buoy, along with miles of line studded with dozens of delicate instruments (and with bright yellow, buoyant hardhats), into the water without tangling, damaging the equipment, or injuring any people involved. (Photo by Penny Foster, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

R/V Knorr, like other large research ships, carries an impressive array of equipment including winches, cranes, an A-frame for deploying and retrieving buoys and other heavy objects, and satellite and radio antennas. Knorr, however, is the only ship in the world outfitted to handle the Long Core, which collects seafloor sediment cores and weighs 30,000 pounds when fully assembled. (Photo by Alexander Dorsk, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Long Core barrel on R/V Knorr is stowed on the deck when not in use, then positioned vertically to be lowered to the ocean floor where it can extract sediment cores up to 45 meters (150 feet) long. Knorr was strengthened in 2005 to  accommodate the Long Core and withstand the intense force needed to retrieve it with its load of sediment. (Photo by Alexander Dorsk, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Research vessels are equipped with labs, such as this one on R/V Atlantis, where WHOI biologist Stace Beaulieu views images relayed from the human-occupied submersible Alvin from the seafloor. Ship labs include walk-in freezers, delicate microscopes, sonar and other acoustic devices, and of course, many, many computers. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

On a research ship, research is not confined to the labs. WHOI biologists Tim Shank (left), Stace Beaulieu (right), and another observer examine a tubeworm collected by the human-occupied submersible Alvin from hydrothermal vents along the Galápagos Rift. Alvin always sails on R/V Atlantis, which is equipped with a hangar to shelter the little sub during off-duty hours. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Accommodations on a research vessel are more spacious than on a military ship, but not as plush as on a cruise ship. This room on R/V Oceanus features bunk beds, personal storage area, seating for two, and a writing desk. (Photo by Marisa Hudspeth)

Alvin pilot Bruce Strickrott looks over the offerings as steward Carl Wood refills the food trays in the mess hall of R/V Atlantis. Researchers and crew routinely report that meals aboard WHOI research ships are superb. (Photo by Christopher Knight)